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Southwark public services preparing for industrial action

April Ashley, Southwark UNISON branch secretary, has announced that council staff are preparing for industrial action.

"A thousand job cuts in Southwark will decimate services," she declared at a Southwark Save Our Services public meeting on Thursday. "We are determined to fight these cuts."

The move by union members comes after council leader Peter John indicated that jobs could go.

Around 50 teachers, nurses, students and journalists crowded into the Southwark Salvation Army hall at the Elephant & Castle to voice concerns about about management high pay, job losses and education cuts.

National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear described the government spending cuts as "a fundamental attack on the welfare state".

"The myth is we are all in this together," he told the meeting.

"Last year the thousand richest people in the UK increased their wealth by 77 billion. Just half of their fortune taken from them could pay off the entire the national debt."

Earlier one of several NUJ members present had condemned the top management pay and a 1 million golden handshake for BBC deputy director-general Mark Byford.

Tahera Aziz of London South Bank University's University and College Union (UCU) branch said that many LSBU students came from low income families.

"We are talking about 80 per cent of all funding for teaching going in the next four years. Lecturers and support staff are going to lose their jobs."

Alan Kirkby, an independent candidate in Bermondsey & Old Southwark at the general election who polled 155 votes, declared that Simon Hughes MP had stood on a false prospectus.

"Let's campaign to get him out of office. Let him feel the heat," he called to applause.

One member of the audience claimed that adult education run by Southwark Council was under threat of closure after Christmas. "It will be an academic lifelong learning wasteland."

An National Union of Teachers member condemned plans for a new government-funded 'free school' at London Bridge and warned that it would end up being an academy run by ARK. The 'free school' tag was designed to mask the government's real intention.

A nurse claimed that Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust was half way to being privitised and staff faced cuts.

Southwark Council is holding its own open meeting on Tuesday 16 November as part of its budget consultation process.

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